UNIT 9: Novel
In this Unit, the following aspects will be covered:

  • Introduction 
  • Origin and Development of Novel/Prose
  • Forms of Novel/Prose
  • Types of Novel
  • The Features of Novel/Prose
  • Conclusion 
Novel (Prose Fiction)
A novel is a long fiction narrative written in prose. Is a long written story in which the characters and events are usually imaginary. 

Origin and development
 Novel as a genre has historical roots in the field of literature. It was formerly called ‘novella’ but later the term supplied the present generic term ‘novel’. Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio applied the term ‘novella’ to the short prose narratives in his work (1353, Ten Day’s Work) but when his tales were translated, the term ‘novel’ passed into English language. 

Forms/Classifications of Novel/Prose. 
Hence, the prose fiction has been divided into novelette, short story, novella and novel.
Novelette is a piece of short prose fiction. The distinction between a novelette and novella is usually based upon word count.
Novella is a written, fictional prose narrative that is larger than a novelette but shorter than a novel. In English, examples of novellas include, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, “Of Mice and Men” and “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck, and “Billy Budd”, “The Metamorphosis”, and “In the Penal Colony” by Herman Melville.
Short story is a work of fiction that is shorter than a novel, novella, or novelette. The short story is one of the oldest forms of literature and most can be read at one sitting. Examples of short stories include; O.Henry’s “Furniture Room”(1904), “The Gift of Magi”, and Anton Chekhov’s “The Party”(1888) and “The Lady and the Dog”(1899). The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America use word counts to determine which pieces of fiction are eligible for which of their Nebula Awards Categorisation of Word Count for each type of Prose is as follows:

Over 40,000 words

17,500-40,000 words

7,500-17,500 words

Short story 
Under 7,500 words.

Types of novels
Genres or types of novels have been categorized according to the content they convey. Here are some of them, although there is no single agreement among the literary critics:

  • Social novel
  • Novel of manners
  • Chronicle novels
  • Psychological novel
  • Educational novel
  • Philosophical novel
  • Experimental novel
  • Popular novel
  • Detective novel
  • Spy novel
  • Science-Fiction novel
  • Fantasy novel
  • Romance novel
  • Historical novel
  • Horror novel
  • Gothic novel
  • Western novel
  • Mystery novel
  • Realistic novel
  • Romantic novel
  • Sentimental novel
Features of novel.
 Novel is one of the most popular forms of literature. The following are the features that distinguish a novel as a prose fiction from other literary genres:
1. The subject matter of novels covers the whole range of human experience and imagination. Short stories may cover a single subject of human life.
2. A novel is a narrative, that is, a story presented by a teller. It differs from a drama which presents a story through speech and actions of the characters.
2. Novels are longer than short stories, fairy tales and most other types of narratives.
3. Because of their length, novels can cover a longer period and include more characters than most other kinds of narratives.
4. A novel is written in prose, rather than in verse. The novel uses common daily language rather than poems.
5. Novels are works of fiction. That is, novels are fictitious works or imaginary creations. They differ from histories, biographies, and other long prose narrative that tell about real events or the lives of real people.
6. A novel is flexible in its arrangement. Novelists can arrange incidents, describe places, and represent characters in an almost limitless variety of ways. For example, in some novels, one of the characters can tell a story, but in others the author can tell the story himself/herself.
7. Novels also include many characters than any other genre of literature. For example, you may find more than 40 characters in the single novel.

Forms of Novel/Prose and types of novel are crucial aspects for students to know before starting analyzing the novels for the course.

Abrahams, M.H (1971) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc. New York.

Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Fourth Course with Readings in World Literature; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.

Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Sixth Course; Literature of Britain with World Classics; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.

Kinsella, K et al (2003) Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes; Copper Level, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.


Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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